Saturday, 18 February 2012

Arsene Wenger Best XI

After reading a certain quote from Wenger this morning of “We had a team capable of winning everywhere” my mind began racing. I have, over the past few weeks been looking at the team and the league table constantly wondering how we are going to navigate a route back to the top of the pile. A lot has been asked of Wenger and whether he is unable to see “what is so obvious to everyone else”. I look at the team and think of areas it can be improved but a lot of people wonder whether Wenger has the will or the way to make this team the dominant force it was in the early/mid noughties. A lot of people might question the decisions Le Boss has made but let’s try to dispel the notion that Wenger cannot spot a good defender or that he is unaware of which players are needed. Surely the quote in itself admits a recognition that his current crop are not good enough but I thought I would do something more positive by having a look at some of the players he has played in each position since he has arrived. Here is MY best Arsene Wenger XI.

Please bare in mind this is not set to tactics that Wenger would employ and instead is based on players I would choose to fit the formation I have used here. I contemplated a 4-4-2 and the team would look slightly different but I have chosen players who not only have ability but the character I think is essential. Hence the reason twats like Cashley would never get close.

GK - David Seaman

There was only ever going to be one really. Despite some competition from Jens, this is perhaps one of the most uncontested positions in the list. From “that save” against Sheffield United to his penalty stopping heroics, David Seaman has a catalogue of great saves. Despite the fact that he sported a questionable moustache and an appalling ponytail, it is fair to say he was a true Arsenal great. Some argue the best number 1 that Arsenal have ever had. I wouldn’t like to get into that debate today but suffice to say he is the best Arsenal keeper I have seen live.

RB - Bacary Sagna

It was a tough one between Bacary and Lee Dixon for me as the consistency he showed in his 600+ capped career was hard to look past but look past I did because the admiration I have for Sagna is second to none. I genuinely believe he is the best player in his position in the world right now and we have sorely missed him in his absence. I know this is perhaps poorly timed given his shocker mid-week against Milan, but that aside I cannot remember many times in his 141 game career that he has looked out of his depth against any forward in world football.

CB - Sol Campbell

Big Sol, perhaps the most controversial of all of Arsene Wenger’s buy’s, was at the time one of the top defenders in world football. He was bought from arch nemesis and neighbour, Tottenham for a free transfer and he had an immediate impact. He formed a fantastic partnership with Kolo Toure and was at the heart of the side that remained unbeaten for an entire season. He was able to fit into the team immediately and went on to win two league titles, three FA cups and two charity shields. He also won some individual honours during his time at Arsenal as he was in the PFA team of the year three times and both the FIFA and UEFA equivalent’s one time each. Include the fact that this was a free transfer and Arsenal managed to get their biggest rival’s player for free this was a great bit of business for the manager and more importantly one of the best centre backs to have played for us in the modern era. That is a huge compliment given the level of competition in this position.

CB - Tony Adams

I am sure this one will not induce any arguments from anyone for Mr Arsenal was one of the best players to ever put on the famous cannon embroiled red and white. He was a natural leader and a superb reader of the game. His application was second to none and the same applies to his organisation skill. Truth be told he was pretty much the complete defender and you could have had a team of Sunday league players next to him and he would be able to make them look top class. He was amazing and I love him. His goal against Everton was about as special a moment as I can remember as an Arsenal fan. With 504 appearances, 13 major trophies and an MBE to his name, nobody can deny that he is an absolute legend.

LB - Nigel Winterburn

With 584 appearances for the gunners and a number of trophies it is hard to look past him. Some people may look to one of the most cuntish characters modern football has ever seen as one of the best left backs, I however only see him as a venomous snake only capable of poisonous treacherous deception. So with that in mind there was only one real candidate, a true Arsenal man through and through.

RM - Robin Van Persie

Here is where it gets really tricky. We have had some of the best attacking players the premiership has seen in recent years and accommodating them is difficult to say the least. Especially when you consider the front two positions alone. In Arsene Wengers time we have seen two strikers break the Arsenal all time scoring record in Thierry Henry and Ian Wright but we all also witnessed the magic of Dennis Bergkamp and more recently his compatriot Robin Van Persie. It is hard to envisage any such list without all four of those names but it is ultimately impossible to accommodate them all in a lineup which does not compromise their natural positions. I did decide though, such is the skill and ability of Robin Van Persie that if all the players Wenger has had were in their peak he would still be the best available right midfielder (in my opinion). Despite being out of position, it is one he has played in a lot, especially internationally so although Ljunberg and the Romford Pele were both worthy contenders my love for Van Persie, rightly or wrongly, meant I just could not have a team without him.

CM - Patrick Vieria

Attributed as the player we have missed most by many journalists. The one that we never replaced. He, with his strength, power and pace was able to turn defence into attack with lightening quick precision. He was a pillar for us and gave us the leadership and solidity that we are missing now. He was a phenomenal presence in the team and undoubtedly the best central midfielder that we have had in the Arsene Wenger era.

LM - Robert Pires
Bought for just £6m from the profits of the Marc Overmars sale, it is fair to say that the Frenchman more than provided value for money. He was a phenomenal success and in a team with greats such as Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieria and Igor Stephanov, he more than held his own. In fact it can be argued that he was for large parts of his career one of Arsenal’s best players. He scored 84 goals in his time for Arsenal with 19 being his best return for a single season; not bad for a midfielder eh? He won two league titles, three FA cups and countless individual honours in his time at Arsenal. The highlight individually of course, was being recognised as the best player in the land by the Football writers in 2001/02.

AM - Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp is without a doubt one of the greatest footballers to ever grace the Premiership. I was considering playing him as the second striker in a two man frontline but I thought playing just behind two strikers would essentially be the same role but with two men to feed and work magic with. He had the most sublime touch and vision unparalleled in the modern game. Not only a killer pass but an eye for goal and what an eye it was. Some of the most memorable goals ever scored for Arsenal came from the Ice-man with the goal against Newcastle a particular standout.

SC - Ian Wright

Once Arsenal record scorer who Alan Smith described as the most natural goal scorer that he has ever seen. He played with some of the best strikers including Gary Linekar and was unequivocal in his assertion that Ian Wright was superior. Not only his goalscoring exploits but everything that came with it. He played for the shirt and he loved the club and despite some fans put off by his pessimism surrounding the club he only speaks as a fan. He would undoubtedly in his prime have scored for fun with this team.

SC - Thierry Henry

There was never really any doubt, was there? Arsenal’s record scorer and most celebrated talent, Thierry Henry is widely celebrated as the best Premier League player of all time. He scored at an incredible rate but it was his all round game that was really outstanding. He like many before him won two league titles and three FA cups and was instrumental in all of the successes. To highlight his importance as an individual just consider that in his time with Arsenal he was the French Player of the Year 5 times, Football Writers’ Player of the Year 3 times, in the PFA team of the year 6 times in a row, won the Premier League Golden Boot 4 times, won the European Golden Boot 2 times and was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame to name just a few. In 369 appearances for Arsenal he scored a record breaking 226 goals along with a phenomenal 92 assists. He has since then further cemented his status as a legend and proved to everyone that he still is a world class act.

My Arsene Wenger Best XI


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